Launch a CityStudio

CityStudio increases innovation, engagement and experimentation inside City Hall by uniting city staff with post-secondary students, faculty and community.

Founded in 2011, we are an award-winning partnership framework between cities and post-secondary institutions that expands the problem solving capacity of city staff by drawing on the expertise of the post-secondary sector. In this way CityStudio helps cities distribute challenges to a wide pool of problem solvers and community experts. The framework provides:

  1. Support for city strategies and staff work plans
  2. Innovation opportunities inside City Hall
  3. Increased citizen engagement and inclusivity
  4. Opportunities for new civic partnerships
  5. Support for economic development
  6. Increased student engagement in learning
  7. Skilled graduate retention in cities

How it works in Vancouver

Once a year, City staff are convened to identify problems related to Vancouver’s strategic planning areas. From this meeting, 35 city staff and 700+ students are matched at our partner schools each year, ensuring a strong fit between city needs, faculty expertise and student learning outcomes.

Students and instructors work with city staff through their classes to co-design projects and experiments in community. Over 50 projects are created annually in the form of research, analysis, mapping, prototyping, engagement and design.

Twice a year at the end of each term, the best projects are presented at the CityStudio showcase at City Hall where students, city staff, faculty, citizens and elected officials connect to learn about the projects and discuss how to advance the solutions to make the best ones permanent. 

Impact in the city

The City of Vancouver reports that CityStudio is an effective collaboration that has contributed to the achievement of specific priorities. Since its launch, CityStudio Vancouver has organized 250 city staff to work with faculty, students and researchers to create solutions and low-risk experiments. These 782 projects have directly contributed to the liveability and sustainability of Vancouver’s neighbourhoods.

5,611 students have been provided with access to their city, developing valuable employment skills by working directly with city staff and faculty on real problems. In total, students have contributed 154,000 hours of public sector innovation.

 A six-year impact survey found that of the city staff who worked with CityStudio:

  • 88% say CityStudio has helped them advance city goals
  • 71% say CityStudio has shifted the way they think and work
  • 95% say CityStudio has made their job more enjoyable

How to start a CityStudio

The CityStudio model can be licensed by cities around the world. There are currently 10 CityStudios across Canada and Australia, with others in development. A license provides everything cities need to build, launch and operate a CityStudio, including valuable tools, resources and hands-on support from the Vancouver team as well as other cities in the CityStudio Network.

Ready to learn more? Explore our licensing steps. >>